The trip is beginning on a good note. Per Puck Rakers, Rick Nash has been activated from IR, and Craig MacDonald has been, or will soon be, sent to Syracuse. Let's just hope Nash isn't pushing things -- his responsibility to the team is long term, and we need him for the stretch run.
The Vancouver bloggers, and the Canucks themselves are referring to themselves as "fragile", needing to maintain composure, and needing to get back to a defensive game. Hmm, any of that sound familiar from times past? Vancouver has lost four in a row at home, including a 4 -1 loss to Phoenix on Thursday, when Roberto Luongo made his return, showing some rust, but stopping the last 21 shots he faced. They have scored only 10 goals in those four losses, so offense has also been a sticking point for the Canucks.
Don't buy into the wounded whale story. They are a tough team, with a three point lead on the Jackets in the standings. They have played 46 games, however, to the Jackets' 44, so this presents an opportunity to make some real gains in the logjam that is the Western Conference right now. 9 teams are with in 8 points, ranging from 5th place, all the way to 13th. We need to stay in the hunt, but the season will not be won or lost on this trip, particularly when we have 10 of 13 at home coming out of the break.
Sammy Salo returns for Vancover tonight, so look for them to hit hard early. For that reason, Filatov is a likely scratch. We need to respond in kind, but keep our composure and Hitch-Hockey fully in place. We need to turn the skill lines, including the Nash-Malhotra-Huselius line, fully loose on Luongo and let the rubber fly. Keep pressure in the neutral zone and keep the Sedin brothers to the outside. Watch for them to crowd Mason, so we need to clear the lanes and crease without taking penalties. Finally, let's see if Williams and friends can cash in on a power play or two.
Energy, chemistry, effort, patience. These will carry the day. Go Jackets!!